Southeast Asia: Senior Malaysian Official Warns of Talent Shortage

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By Michael Mackey

April 27—Competition for talented labor will intensify and could have a negative impact on the Southeast Asian economy, a senior Malaysian official warned in an April 22 speech.

This will require companies and countries to have strategies to both keep and develop talent, Dató Muhammad bin Ibrahim, deputy governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, the country's central bank, said in a keynote address to the HR Knowledge Bazaar.

Demand for talent will come from many sectors and will intensify following the economic and financial integration of ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) due to start the end of this year, bin Ibrahim said.

“For ready-made talent in particular, the competition will be fierce and will be compounded by the fact that mobility for this group is high,” bin Ibrahim said. “While mobility presents an opportunity for career advancement at the individual level, at the macro level, it could potentially and adversely impact the economy if not managed appropriately,” making it “critical that we are able to devise a strategy that could continuously retain and development talent.”

‘Profound Pondering'

While he was short on specifics, bin Ibrahim called for what he termed “profound pondering” within companies and organizations to address the problem of staff skills.

Acknowledging that a new perspective requires “re-doing and re-thinking of learning and development,” bin Ibrahim urged more collaboration between research, teaching and industry.

“These areas once aligned reinforce each other, creating a virtuous cycle that creates a structure that produces employable and productive employees of high quality,” bin Ibrahim said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Mackey in Bangkok at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

For more information on Malaysian HR law and regulation, see the Malaysia primer.